The North Dakota Senate wants it to be easy to raise our taxes. They proved as much last week when they defeated House Concurrent Resolution 3040.
Had HCR 3040 passed, it would have placed a constitutional amendment on the 2022 General Election ballot. Voters would have decided whether the legislature should have to garner a 2/3 vote in both of its chambers to raise our taxes or to create a new one. Right now it only requires a simple majority.
Freshman Senator Doug Larsen (R – District 34) did an excellent job of defending the idea during floor debate. But on an 18-28 vote, a majority of his colleagues spoke loud and clear on how they felt about the idea.
Spending in Bismarck has been a huge problem for over a decade now. We’ve seen things like a special session to address budget shortfalls and draining buckets (i.e. reserve funds) to make budgets work. And then some Republicans have had the audacity to brag about balancing the budget— which is actually pretty ridiculous when we consider they’re constitutionally required to do so.
Even this session has been no exception. You might have forgotten — or didn’t know — that in its opening days Legislative Budget Analyst and Auditor, Allen Knudson, gave a presentation to lawmakers that lasted more than 20 minutes. In it, he warned of the potential for a nearly $1 Billion shortfall. Keep in mind— that was just three short months ago.
While many lawmakers continue to suggest they want to keep taxes low, they ignore the reality of their own spending problem— which means taxes could be even lower if they didn’t spend so much. That would mean more money in your pocket and mine. I think that’d be a good thing.
It would be an understatement to say that I’m disappointed in the Senate. Yet, I’m not surprised by how they voted. I’m certain they’re well aware that had they put this on the ballot, it would have passed with overwhelming support— just like Senator Doug Larsen indicated in his floor speech. And like typical politicians, they just couldn’t allow that to happen. Because, according to Senator Dale Patten (R – District 39), it would make their jobs “more difficult” ya know.
It’s a heavy lift for the citizenry to gather the necessary signatures to place a constitutional measure on the ballot. But maybe — just maybe — this one’s worth the effort to get it there. After all, if we don’t put a kibosh to what’s going on in Bismarck, then who will?
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